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Tribe Immune From Casino Owner’s Claim

(CN) - A Washington casino owner cannot challenge the state's decision to let the Puyallup tribe operate electronic scratch-ticket games at its casino, but not at the plaintiff's private casino, a Washington appeals court ruled.

Eugene "Chip" Mudarri, owner of Freddie's Club of Fife, sued the state and its lottery official over the allegedly discriminatory regulation.

Although the state won summary judgment, it cross-appealed the grounds on which the trial court dismissed Mudarri's claims that indirectly attacked the State-Tribe Compact. The state said the court should have tossed the claims for failure to join the tribe as a defendant.

Judge Hunt agreed.

"We hold that the tribe, which is not a party to Mudarri's action, is 'indispensable' to adjudication of his challenges to the State-Tribe Compact," Hunt wrote.

But Mudarri cannot sue the tribe unless the tribe waives its sovereign immunity. Thus, the trial court lacked jurisdiction, the appeals court concluded.

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